Tag Archives: Moe

SSR #18: “Dancin’ Homer”

Introduction:
Homer has had a lot of jobs over the years, many of which have nothing to do with the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. In today’s episode, we are going to take a look at the first time Homer got to spread his wings outside of the plant gates and do something he actually enjoyed. I don’t think he got any actual money for this particular gig, but he did seem to have a lot of fun with it and he seemed to be very good at it as well. Today we are going to go down to the old baseball field and take a look at “Dancin’ Homer.”

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SSR #13: “Some Enchanted Evening”

Intro

Introduction:
I sense a great disturbance in the force. That’s right, we are finally going to take a look at “Some Enchanted Evening,” an episode I’ve been rather vocal about in terms of my lack of enjoyment of. There are great number of reasons for why this episode in particular gets such low marks from me, but I’m obviously not going to talk about those reasons right now. Heck, if anything, my opinion could change after this most recent watch…we’ll just have to wait and see! “Some Enchanted Evening” first aired on on May 13th, 1990 and has the ‘honor’ of being the first episode written for the show’s first season, but the last one of the season to actually air. The reason for such the huge delay in airing was due to the fact that, as we will see in our viewing of this episode, the animation looked absolutely atrocious, and many of the show’s producers were not happy with the final product. They basically held it back from airing first for that sole reason and decided to spend a little more time polishing up the animation for other episodes that would end up debuting before this one, a decision that was definitely a good call on their parts. I find it weird that this episode still managed to make it on TV though because of that presentation, but I guess the writers and producers were still confident in the episode’s plot at least, and figured that the presentation would only be a small hurdle to jump over. The chalkboard gag of the episode is “I Will Not Yell ‘Fire’ in a Crowded Classroom,” and the couch gag…there is no couch gag! The Simpsons come inside and sit on the couch and nothing happens. I guess this is further proof that this was supposed to be the first episode, because we saw actual gags before we even saw the original “no gag” animation.

Marge PhoneDr. Monroe (phone): “If he doesn’t start loving, you will be leaving!”
Marge: “Leave Homer?”
Dr. Monroe: “Don’t use his real name!”
Marge: “Leave Pedro?”

Plot:
The story starts with breakfast on another morning in the Simpson household. In perhaps one of the crudest animations in the entire series, we see the entire family, sans Marge, shoveling food into their mouths while Marge is standing around witnessing the act and looking rather troubled about something. From this we can gather that Marge isn’t incredibly happy at home. Her kids don’t seem incredibly appreciative and her husband is, quite frankly, a pig who doesn’t show her the love she should be receiving. After the kids ignore the lunches she made for them, Homer doesn’t give her a kiss good-bye, and Maggie falls asleep on her, we start to get the feeling that Marge is quite depressed at the moment.

After hearing about a radio talk show with Dr. Marvin Monroe, Marge calls in and starts talking about the problems she is having at home. This same radio show just so happens to be playing at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, where Homer works, and he manages to hear everything. During the call, Dr. Monroe tells Marge that she needs to tell Homer off and that she is not going to be treated this way anymore. Marge responds enthusiastically (with anger) and Homer is now incredibly worried about coming home that night. He decides to stop in at Moe’s Tavern on his way home, and while talking to Moe about his problem, he decides to give Homer some advice. He tells Homer to go home with flowers and then show Marge an evening she will never forget that’s all about her and how much he really loves her. Homer accepts the advice and finally decides to go home. Although Homer isn’t able to get many flowers with his budget, and even though Marge has been at home stewing in anger the entire day, Marge immediately is touched by Homer’s gesture and forgives him.

Homer makes plans for the two to go out to dinner and dancing for the night. However, this creates a problem with the children who will now be left at home unsupervised unless they get a babysitter. Although they have some trouble at first (since they have been blacklisted from the babysitting service, and need to call under a different alias), they eventually get a babysitter under the name Ms. Botz. Marge and Homer then proceed to go out for an amazing night of fun and romance.
Back at home, Bart turns on “America’s Most Armed and Dangerous,” and while watching, Bart and Lisa start hearing about a criminal known as “The Babysitter Bandit.” They proceed to get scared, thinking that their own babysitter might be the criminal, and right when they show a picture of the lady, known as Ms. Lucille Botzcowski, Ms. Botz comes out of the other room with ropes and restraints, ready to tie-up the children. Their babysitter is in fact, the Babysitter Bandit. Both kids are captured, even Lisa, who almost manages to call the hotline about the criminal, but is cut-off at the worst possible time. The only child who isn’t captured is Maggie, who is still in her room, but manages to sneak out and look for her brother and sister.

Maggie finds the two tied-up on the couch and helps them get free. From here, the children decide to set a trap for the bandit, where Maggie crawls into the other room to get her attention, and has her follow the child into a closet where Bart proceeds to knock her out with a baseball bat. They tie up the lady and leave her hog-tied on the middle of the living room floor, forcing her to watch “The Happy Little Elves,” while they leave the house to call at a pay phone down the street because the bandit disconnected the telephone lines. During this time, after their romantic evening has ended, Marge decides to call home to check on the children, but gets no answer. Fearing that something bad has happened, they drive home.

When they arrive home, they find the babysitter tied up and they freak out not knowing the reason for it. They send the lady home with an increased payment and her bags, which they are unaware has all of the stuff she stole from them, and right as the babysitter bandit leaves, the children return home with the police and “America’s Most Armed and Dangerous.” Homer gets angry at Bart for what he has done, but while he is disciplining the boy, the police reveal that Homer had just paid off and set free a criminal. In a moment of awkwardness, Homer tries to spin the story that she had escaped and that he had struggled with keeping her captive, but the damage is already done and Homer looks like the biggest fool in town. However, during the last moments of the episode, Marge comforts him and lets him know that if he was capable of raising children that could capture a criminal, he must be doing something right, and reminding him that the entire night wasn’t a total waste.

LobsterWaiter: “Why don’t you pick one that’s a little more frisky, sir?
Homer: “Why?”
Waiter: “Well, when you choose one that’s floating upside-down, that kind of defeats the purpose of selecting a live lobster.”
Homer: “Oh, okay. Then I’ll take that one there with the beady eyes.”

My Personal History:
Of all the episodes in Season 1, this is probably the episode I’ve seen the least amount of times. Not because it’s the last episode or anything (usually, when I watch a DVD, I watch the entire disc before putting it down), but because in the Season 1 DVD boxset, this was the only episode on Disc 3, so it never really that important to put an entire disc in to just watch one episode, especially if it was an episode I was never really that crazy about. But yeah, as you probably expected, I didn’t get to see this one until I got Season 1 on DVD, so I don’t have much to say here beyond that. I can’t wait until we get to Season 2 so I actually have a little more to say in these sections.

BartSmartBart: “We know who you are, Ms. Botz, or should I say, Ms. Botzcowski! You’re the babysitter bandit!”
Ms. Botz: “You’re a smart, young man Bart. I hope you’re smart enough to keep your mouth shut.”
Lisa: “He isn’t!”

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
Despite this episode being a little hard to watch at times, I will say that there are actually quite a few nice moments in this episode. For one, I like the dynamic of the Simpson children just being a whole lot smarter and better at everything than their parents (especially Homer) are capable of being. The way they captured the Babysitter Bandit was absolutely incredible and the fact that they could improvise in such a quick manner just makes me wish we could have seen more of that in this episode. Home Alone is probably one of my all-time favorite movies, and I think it would have been fun to see an entire section of that in this episode; just watching the three kids completely outsmart and outmaneuver the criminal. And then, just having your entire plan get ruined by Homer’s actions…it makes for a very disappointed ending, but also a very funny ending as well. This is how the Simpson family is supposed to work; they have moments of brilliance and excellence, but then something comes along and screws everything up, resetting the status quo, and in some cases like this, giving the family less of what they started with.

I think Marge and Homer have some nice moments as well, but definitely not along the same lines as the Simpson children. I like how Homer can be romantic and thoughtful when he really puts his heart into it, and it’s just nice seeing the husband and wife going out and having a good and fun time together. This is the 3rd episode in the last five episodes where Marge and Homer have some kind of spat or marital problem, and even though they managed to pull themselves out of the mud in every instance, it’s not really a thing I want to see too many times in the series. They’ve already been through some pretty rough situations and tough times in just the first season, and if they overdo it, it will probably make viewers wonder why they are even together if they keep having these problems. So it’s nice to see them in a more relaxed and fun environment where they can be themselves and just have a good time together, which in terms shows how compatible they actually are.

As far as best individual moment, the one moment I always remember from this episode is when Bart and Lisa are calling the hotline to inform the police that they captured the Babysitter Bandit. Bart asks Lisa to ask them what their reward will be for catching her, and after she asks, she responds with, “If she’s convicted, we’ll get t-shirts!” and Bart exclaims, in a very positive manner “All right!” I love it just because they are kids who are getting excited over t-shirts of all things, which I think is pefect. It’s perfect because it makes a good joke, and it really just shows the simple-minded nature of children. They don’t need a huge cash reward; sometimes just the experience and a reminder of that experience is all they will ever need.

Also, this is going to be a very short paragraph, but there is one more thing I want to point out before we move on. Isn’t this the THIRD episode in a row where Bart has outsmarted a criminal? Unfortunately the one in this episode escaped, but he captured the French winemakers in Episode #11, Sideshow Bob in Episode #12, and now the Babysitter Bandit in Episode #13. Seriously, at this rate, maybe Bart Simpson should be a police officer, because he is on a roll at the moment.

TV“Have you ever seen a kung-fu movie? It was just like that! But now I know her moves. So, if you are listening to me, lady, you’d better think long and hard about trying this on Homer Simpson again!”
– Homer Simpson

My Review:
This is an episode I haven’t really been looking forward to for a while now. Going into this project, I was confident that this was going to be my first “negative” review. Even though I have been negative on some aspects of different episodes from the first season, most of my reviews have been relatively positive. However, I knew this episode in particular would be the hardest shell to crack in terms of changing my opinion around, just because it’s always been a chore for me to go back and watch this one, for a multitude of reasons. However, on this particular re-watch, there was really only one thing that bothered me.

As I’ve said before, the visual presentation for this episode is just not very good. I think the first scene in the episode pretty much speaks volumes for the entire presentation as a whole. You get an extremely awkward animatic for the Simpson family eating breakfast with Homer eating with his mouth open and the entire family just eating like pigs in general. Then you just start feeling incredibly bad for Marge because of what her family is doing to her. Then you get the extremely cliché wife calling to complain about her husband routine, with the husband finding out and then figuring out a way to win her back…the entire first act in general is just really, really hard to get through and is probably the weakest part of the episode, in my opinion. It definitely improves from that point forward, but I still think you should have a good story throughout the entire twenty-one minutes, and not just fourteen of them.

From the second act, onward (pretty much when the babysitter comes into the picture), the episode is actually pretty strong. You really start to see the Simpson children in their element when it comes to dealing with a bad guy (or bad girl, in this case) and the entire game of cat-and-mouse between the children and the Babysitter Bandit is just exciting and entertaining to watch. It’s like I said earlier in the review, this really should have been the basis for the entire episode, and not just the second-half. They could have started from Marge and Homer getting ready to go out for the night and skipped all the awkward “Marge not happy at home” business, and then we could have gotten another act of the kids and the bandit at war, which is what I wanted to see more of. The Homer and Marge stuff was nice and sweet when we got to the second and third acts, but it just wasn’t as strong as the other storyline going on, and as I said, I just really didn’t like the first seven minutes of this episode.

I think it’s actually kind of interesting when you consider the fact that this was initially planned as the first episode of the series. And you know, honestly, I kind of wish it would have been. “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” was a nice premiere, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like first episodes in general always kind of have that “first episode” stigma attached to them. It’s the stigma where, while you are watching, you know and feel like it’s a first episode. Whether it has to do with, in this case, the art direction and presentation, or how a character portrays their lines and attitudes. It’s stuff where you can watch the episode and think “Wow, that character has changed a lot since then,” but not be turned off or lose interest completely. That’s the vibe I get from this episode, but it’s funny considering the season already has a couple of episodes where the characters and art direction has improved beyond this point, yet this episode still falls at the end of the season anyway. It was just a very, very odd choice to keep it in as the episode finale, at least in my opinion. It makes me wonder why they didn’t just scrap it entirely or at the very least, try to remake it with better animation later when they had access to it, instead of just releasing it as it already was. I imagine it had to do with financial reasons, in the sense of, if they just threw away what they had already gotten animated, it could have been a huge loss of money, so it made sense to work with what they already I had, I guess.

So yeah, after re-watching this episode again, I have to say that I wasn’t as disappointed as I thought I would be. I still think this is far from the best episode of the season, but I came out of the watch feeling more positive about this one than I have ever been before, which I think is quite the accomplishment. It’s an awkward episode, sure, but once you get to main course, it offers plenty of thrills for everyone to enjoy. And hey, I’m not going to lie, it’s a good feeling to finally have Season 1 wrapped up with this amount of positivity.

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Guys…we’ve made it! Season 1 has officially been finished, and we can start looking forward to the future of this series. I have to say, this was a lot of fun to do and it was great to re-watch the first season and look at the episodes in a way I’ve never done before. It really opened my eyes to things I liked from episodes I was never really crazy about, and further confirmed why I love some episodes better than others. With that being said though, this is still only the first season and there are many, many seasons to go. Heck, even if I only focus on the golden age of The Simpsons, that’s still only one year of episodes versus at least 9 or 10 others, so I’m not going to be so quick to congratulate myself on a job well done. Although, I will say it feels good to finish 13 episodes in half of a year with really only 3 delays in between (where two of which I had no control over).

So how about the future of this series? Well, I will say for certain that I am looking forward to Season 2, but before I start, I’m going to take a bit of a break from this. Right now, I’m working on a bunch of different projects as it is on my Youtube channel and there are a lot of others things I need to figure out as well before I get myself too deep into something I may or may not be able to handle. Because once I start Season 2, I want to hit it hard and strong with no delays whatsoever, so the least I could do is wait until I know I can make that happen. If I had to give a date, it would probably be near the end of July or start of August, so stay tuned until then. For now though, this has been SlimKirby, and I’ll talk you guys later!

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SSR #10: “Homer’s Night Out”

Intro

Introduction:
Last week we had a little trouble in paradise with Marge being tempted by the advances of another man. This week, Homer will have his own little adventures in the adult world, but not without getting sent to the doghouse after the fact. I really hope this is not the start of a pattern for future problems to come for this marriage, but we should probably get started anyway. Homer’s Night Out is the 10th episode of the Simpsons 1st season and was also the tenth episode written for the series, despite being written before Life in the Fast Lane and after a future episode in the season. The chalkboard gag is “I will not call my teacher ‘Hot Cakes,’” probably a wise lesson to learn for the future, and the couch gag is a repeat from earlier in the season when the entire family sits on the couch and it completely collapses under them.

HomerApuApu: “You look familiar sir, are you on the television or something?”
Homer: “Sorry buddy, you got me confused with Fred Flintstone!”

Plot:
This episode actually has a really interesting start, as the story takes place 6 months after the beginning scene. Homer is telling Marge about his new assistant who recently made a fool out of himself at a party in front of a girl he liked. Then, the scene switches to Bart who purchases a miniature spy camera from a mail order catalog. The story then jumps ahead six months to the present day. Homer is telling Marge about a bachelor party he’s going to for his ex-assistant (now supervisor) who is about to marry the same woman he made a fool out of himself in front of. Marge is concerned that the bachelor party is actually a stag party, but Homer assures his wife that it is nothing like that. Meanwhile, after six months of waiting and pestering the female mail carrier, Bart finally receives his spy camera.

Bart proceeds to use the camera in typical kid fashion, by taking pictures of humiliating things like Marge shaving her armpits, a piece of roadkill, and even attempts to snap a shot of his own rear end. Marge announces that they will be going out to eat that night, minus Homer (since he will be at the bachelor party) at the Rusty Barnacle seafood restaurant. Little do they know, the bachelor party Homer is attending is also taking place in one of the private party rooms in the same building. The party is very boring at first, but things start to go wild when a belly-dancer known as Princess Kashmir arrives on the scene and starts to dance on the tabletops. She invites Homer to dance with her and Homer agrees, at first nervous and not really knowing what to do, but then really gets into it and finishes the dance by putting some money in her g-string underwear. During this dance, Bart stumbles away from the family, sneaks into the party room, and takes a picture of his father in act of dancing with the woman.

Bart shows the picture to his friends at school and ends up giving a copy to his two best friends. However, his two friends end up making more copies for their friends, and soon enough, everyone around town has a copy of the picture, including the church reverend, Homer’s boss Mr. Burns, and it gets posted at the gym where Marge conveniently goes to work out. Homer is unaware of the photo’s existence until an angry Marge confronts him about the picture. Homer, at a loss of what to say, gets thrown out of the house by Marge, forcing him to stay at his friend Barney’s apartment. With the exception of Marge’s response though, most of the town is very complimentary towards Homer and his bravery for dancing with a beautiful woman. Even when Mr. Burns confronts Homer about the picture, after scolding him initially for his behavior, he asks Homer for advice on how to attract members of the opposite sex. Unfortunately though, the one and only person he wants to talk about this with is the same woman who threw him out; his wife.

Homer attempts to go home the next morning to talk to Marge. Marge is open with why she is angry and tells Homer that the reason she is mad is because Homer is teaching his son a very bad lesson when it comes to how men should treat women. She wants Homer to take Bart to meet this woman so he can show Bart that Princess Kashmir is more than just a belly dancer, but also a human being with real thoughts, feelings and emotions. They ultimately track her down at a club, but while Princess Kashmir is telling Bart her story, the performance starts and Homer falls on stage. The announcer, other dancers and the entire audience recognize Homer as the man from the photograph, and he is once again encouraged to dance on stage.

Homer starts dancing yet again, but when he sees Bart watching him and smiling, he realizes that he is not doing what he promised his wife he would do and immediately stops and grabs the mic to give a speech about women. While giving his speech, Marge enters the club and listens to Homer’s words. Homer tells the entire club that women are not only people too, but also a very big part of our lives; being not only wives, but also sisters, aunts, nieces, daughters and mothers, and that we should not treat them as objects. He finishes by saying that he would rather be at home in bed with his wife sleeping than shoving money in some dancer’s underwear. The entire club applauds Homer’s speech and Marge runs on stage to reconcile with Homer. The episode fades to credits on the two kissing.

Homer thrown outHomer: “But where will I sleep?”
Marge: “My suggestion is for you to sleep in the filth you created!”
Homer: “Would a motel be okay?”

My Personal History:
I don’t have much to say here. I didn’t get to watch this episode until it came out on DVD. I was interested in seeing the plot and premise as it seemed very different from what I was used to with Simpson’s episodes, but like Life on the Fast Lane, I couldn’t really form a major opinion on it until much later on in life, when it was more relatable to me as an episode plot. It’s still not really that relatable, but more so than it was as a 14-year-old.

Mr Burns“A plant employee carrying on like an oversexed orangutan in heat! This is a family nuclear power plant Simpson. Our research indicate that 50% of our power is used by women. I will not have you offending my customers with your bawdy shenanigans!”
~Mr. Burns

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
I think the beginning part of the episode is great. I love the joke of how Homer’s assistant started out as pathetic as Homer is, but then in six-month’s time, not only did he manage to court and get engaged with the woman he was after, but he also got promoted over Homer while Homer is still just in the same place that he’s always been in. It’s also humorous to see Homer freak out about his weight twice, in the same exact fashion, when over a six month’s time period, he didn’t gain a single pound. And for Homer Simpson, with how much a food glutton he is, it’s honestly not that bad of an accomplishment. The jokes at the restaurant and bachelor party are also pretty good (especially with Bart’s exchanges with the waiter), but after that scene and the first act ends, the episode just kind of takes a very hard left turn, and unfortunately not in a great direction.

I’ll touch on what I didn’t like in the next section, as I’m mainly focusing on the stuff I liked here, but from the end of the first act to the very end of the episode, the only other thing I liked was the ending speech of Homer’s. I liked it because it was a good speech that had a great message, and even featured a little humor in it as well. There’s just something about Homer mentioning “nephews” as a female family title and then immediately retracting it when he realizes what he has said that just cracks me up every single time. But yeah, like I said, it was a good ending with a good message, but I really don’t feel like the message complimented the episode that well. And because I’m kind of getting into it now, perhaps I should move on to the next section first…

Speech“It’s about women, and how they are not mere objects with curves that make us crazy. No, they are our wives, they are our daughters, our sisters, our grandmas, our aunts, our nieces and nephews…well, not our nephews.”
~Homer Simpson

My Review:
There has always been something that has really bothered me about this episode, and after watching it today, I think I finally have my answer for why I feel like this episode kind of misses its mark. First of all, I want to stress that when it comes to women, I am very much in favor of treating them as equals, and any man who goes out of his way to treat them as objects or possessions, is absolute trash. No woman, and for that right, any human being, should be treated in that fashion, and these days I feel like we should be through with that mindset already. We are all equals, and gender and race hierarchies just should not exist. Obviously there are still some individuals who disagree, and let’s be real, there will always be sexism and discrimination regardless of how the times have changed; however, sometimes I feel like there are times when someone tries to push a fight when a battle doesn’t need to be fought, and in this case, I feel like that “someone” is this episode.

What I’m getting at; I don’t really think Homer did anything that wrong here, especially in terms of what Marge is accusing him of. Throughout the entire episode, Homer is actually pretty considerate of how he treats women. He isn’t too forward with women when he’s around them, when he tries to give Mr. Burns advice, he gives very respectful, gentlemanly advice, and you can see and feel that his speech at the end of the episode is genuine and very consistent with how he is throughout the episode. And as far as dancing with all the erotic dancers…I mean, let’s be real here…those dancers are just doing their job and Homer is not going beyond any boundaries that exist in that type of interaction. He’s not grabbing the woman, touching the woman, making any obscene gestures towards the woman…in fact, the woman herself invited Homer on top of the table to dance in the first place, so clearly she didn’t have an issue with him. If anything, she probably picked him because he was the most respectful and least obnoxious at the party, but still someone she could have fun dancing with.

Now, was Bart witnessing the act a bad thing? Sure! And having that picture float around town was probably not the best way to make Homer look like a man of love and respect either, but I’d focus less on the whole “treating women like objects” argument, and focus more on the fact that Homer probably should have just been honest with Marge from the get-go. When he got home from the party, he should have confessed to Marge that there was a dancer that he was unaware of, and that he did dance with her, but it meant nothing to him and he treated her with kindness and respect because that is what Marge would wanted from him. And yeah, he probably shouldn’t have lied and said “the party will be classy,” at the beginning of the episode either, but to his credit, he wasn’t entirely sure at that point. For those actions in particular, yeah, I can understand why Marge would be pissed, but I think she jumped on the “objects” bandwagon a bit prematurely and without enough context. She should have at least listened to Homer’s side of the story first before making any snap judgments.

As far as exotic dancers are concerned, I think there’s a fine line between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior. For example (and this is stuff I have been told by women, so I’m not just making this stuff up), some women like being told and shown that they are attractive. Hell, sometimes it can be a bit of motivator and confidence-booster in knowing that they have a side that people find charming. So as long as people are respectful of that, and stick to their boundaries, I don’t really see much of an issue if women are fine with that line of work. However, the moment a man starts to overreach those boundaries, then yes, there is a big problem there, and then you do get into the issue of treating women like objects, which is not ok, or acceptable by any wavelength. I just don’t feel like Homer was anywhere near that point and he gets an incredibly raw deal because of some bad coincidences.

However, this does raise the question though; was that what the writers were going for? Was the point of this episode to show that while Homer isn’t like that, there are many people who are, and those very same people kind of look at Homer like he is some kind of player or superstar, when in reality, Homer doesn’t care about any of that stuff and just wants to be at home with his wife? And because of that, that does actually give Homer’s speech at the end a little more weight, because it’s not about him apologizing for his behavior, but more trying to teach some uninformed minds about how they might be treating women. If that was the angle, I wish they would have spent a heavier focus on that, just because it seems like the episode really tries to force the idea that Homer is a bad guy when he’s really not even close to one.

This is why I can’t say I hate the episode, because it seems like there is some kind of ulterior motive involved with the writing that just doesn’t come out the way I think it should. It really is like Life in the Fast Lane in a lot of respects, but the only difference is, I feel like the writing was a little better in that episode as opposed to this one. Life in the Fast Lane just made me a little uneasy. This episode makes me feel a little less uneasy, but a bit more
frustrated. Frustrated at Homer being misunderstood until the end and frustrated at the way Marge was acting towards her husband. Again, I’m not saying Marge was wrong by being angry, I just think she was wrong by being dismissive and not talking to her husband first, much like in the same way Homer was wrong by not talking honestly to his wife about the party in question.

I feel like I’m being incredibly redundant by this point, so I’ll try to wrap it up here. The episode does have some good jokes and some good merits. I just think the middle acts should have been differently focused and differently structured. It’s almost like it should have been two separate episodes; one episode focused on Marge finding out about the party Homer lied about and then them trying to reconcile, and an entirely, unrelated episode involving the topic of “treating women like objects,” where Homer is the voice of reason at the end. By having these two plots condensed into one, it kind of messes with what should be the main focus here and tries to resolve both conflicts at once, when Marge and Homer’s issue is a much different one entirely. It’s definitely not one of the worst episodes of all time, but it is probably in the bottom tier of episodes from Season 1, at least in my opinion.

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Do we really only have three episodes left of Season 1? I think we do! Thankfully this one didn’t take too long to write, even though I felt like I rambled on like mad at the end there. Sometimes it can be really difficult to talk about this kind of stuff, just because of the world we live in and with the many different viewpoints that can exist out there. Especially when it comes to topics about gender, race and all of those other things that could be seen as controversial viewpoints. I don’t “think” my viewpoints are controversial, as I am someone who tries to see things from all angles before I make my own opinion, but being a white male, I don’t exactly have the same experiences that others would have either. I personally see the world as a place where we all exist and we all deserve the same rights and freedoms (unless we lose those freedoms by doing something stupid like committing a felony or something), so there is no reason to discriminate or treat others that they are less than another. But I digress, I’m sure you don’t see me as a sexist or racist, so I’ll leave it at that and leave it alone until it’s relevant again (which knowing this series, will probably be sooner than you think). I’ll see you guys next week (hopefully) for another retrospective!

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SSR #6: “Moaning Lisa”

Intro

Introduction:
During the first five episodes of The Simpsons; we’ve had two Bart episodes, one Homer episode, and two family episodes that you could qualify as Homer episodes. However, as far as the Simpson females are concerned, we’ve not really had much of a look at Marge, Lisa or Maggie yet. All of them provided relatively small supporting roles in the previous episodes and roles that could arguably be seen as unnecessary in moving the story forward. However, those times are a thing of the past as we have our very first Lisa episode today! “Moaning Lisa” debuted on February 11th, 1990 and was the sixth episode written and aired for the first season. The chalkboard gag is “I will not instigate revolution,” and the couch gag involves the family sitting down on the couch with Maggie popping out and Marge catching her as she is falling.

Sad LisaTeacher: “Lisa, we are playing dodgeball here. The object of the game is to avoid the ball by ducking or weaving out of its path.”
Lisa: “In other words, to dodge the ball.”

Plot:
The episode starts with a very glum Lisa Simpson. She’s very slow at getting ready for school, doesn’t seem very amused in her family’s morning antics, and lets her father and brother eat the last of the remaining cupcakes; claiming that one cupcake will not bring her any happiness. Later at school, when trying to express herself through her saxophone playing, her music teacher, Mr. Largo, scolds her for not following the instructions. Then to top everything off, during gym class she doesn’t seem to be in the mood to play dodgeball for the sole reason that she is ‘sad.’ Lisa’s teacher sends a note home telling her family about Lisa’s sadness.

The family doesn’t seem to understand why Lisa is feeling this way, and tries everything they can to make her feel better. Even Bart tries to cheer Lisa up with a prank phone call to Moe’s Tavern. However, all of their efforts don’t seem to lead anywhere. The only thing that seems to put her mind at ease is music and playing the ‘blues’ on her saxophone. While practicing, Lisa hears another sax playing in the distance and sneaks out of the house to follow the sound. This is where she meets a fellow sax player and jazz musician “Bleedin’ Gums Murphy.” They exchange words and then start playing together into the night. Meanwhile, after having dreams about how to help Lisa, Marge notices that Lisa is missing from her bedroom and follows the music to find her at the bridge and take her home.

The next morning, Marge tells Lisa some advice her mother once gave her; to smile and never stop smiling, even if she doesn’t feel like it, as it will be the key to making friends and getting other people to like her, thus making her more happy. Lisa tries this, but the other kids start trying to take advantage of her and her smarts by asking her to do their homework, and Mr. Largo makes a very demeaning and sarcastic comment in regards to her musical outburst the other day. This upsets Marge and she immediately pulls Lisa back into the car. She tells Lisa to forget everything she told her to do a few minutes ago and that if she wants to be sad, than she should be sad and let her mother do all the smiling for the both of them. This finally strikes a chord with Lisa and she starts to smile, saying that she finally feels like smiling.

Meanwhile, while this is all going on, Homer has his own little story for this episode. Yeah, you could call this the first Simpsons episode that has a “B-Plot” of sorts, or a story that complements (or just featured alongside of in some cases) the main story of the episode. In this particular B-plot, Homer is on an amazing losing streak with Bart on their “Video Boxing” video game. Homer’s constant losing is starting to affect him to a large degree, mainly with him having nightmares of Bart beating him up, so he decides to pick up some tips from the local video game arcade. He trains with a kid who teaches him everything he needs to know and challenges Bart to one final match.

During the match, Homer finally starts to do well and is about to knock-out Bart for the final blow, but before he can perform the final move, Marge comes into the room with Lisa, unplugs the video game system, and tells Bart and Homer that Lisa wants to do something the entire family will enjoy. Bart takes this instance to announce his retirement from Video Boxing with an undefeated record while Homer sobs that his golden moment was taken away from him. The entire family goes to the Jazz Hole where Bleedin’ Gums Murphy is performing the song that he and Lisa played the other night, ending the episode.

Undewear ThingMarge: “Bart’s such a handful, and Maggie needs attention. But all the while, our little Lisa is becoming a young woman.”
Homer: “Oh, so that’s it. It’s some kind of underwear thing.”
Marge: ” *murmurs* Good night, Homer.”

Personal History:
I had to have seen this episode at some point in my life, but I can never recall if it was from a clip show or the actual episode. I was very aware of the Bleedin’ Gums Murphy character and his relationship with Lisa, how Lisa looked up to him and how he was one of Lisa’s biggest inspirations when it came to music and playing the saxophone. However, I might be thinking of “Bart’s Dog Gets An F” in Season 2 where Lisa stiches an image of Mr. Murphy into the family quilt. Regardless, that is a plot point that has always stuck with me regardless, which I guess makes this episode a little iconic, in a sense.

One thing I would like to point out though is that, as a kid, I did own (and still probably do own) “The Simpsons Sing the Blues” album. This was basically a CD that features around 10 or so songs sung by Simpson’s characters. Most of the songs were original songs made for the characters, and some of them were actually used in animated music videos for the show as well, like “Do the Bartman” and “Deep, Deep Trouble.” A longer version of Lisa’s song in this episode, from her jam session with Bleedin’ Gums Murphy, is actually on the CD, and that was something I always enjoyed about watching this episode; finding out where that reference came from. I think at the end of this post I’ll include a link to the song or something, but yeah, I felt like mentioning that.

Bleedin' Gums“The blues isn’t about feelin’ better. It’s about makin’ other people feel worse and makin’ a few bucks while you’re at it.”
~Bleedin’ Gums Murphy

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
This is definitely an episode that relies more on emotional responses and character development than on jokes and humor. However, there is definitely some humor that can be found here still. Whether it’s the return to the Moe’s Tavern prank call joke, where Bart uses the name “Jacques Strap” (for jock strap), or the silliness of the sub-plot of Homer going to an arcade to get tips for beating his son at a video game, there were definitely some laughs to be had in this episode. The fact that Homer is becoming so scared of his son because of the video game is priceless, and the scream he makes when waking up from the nightmare is probably one of the best Homer screams of all time. I also think this episode features a really good Maggie joke where while Bart and Lisa are trying to get Maggie to choose which sibling she likes best, and in what will be classic Maggie humor, she chooses the television over the two family members. I think my favorite joke though is at the end of the episode when the family is listening to the song Lisa wrote. The family is just sitting there, listening to and enjoying the music, and when the song gets to the line about Homer acting like he belongs in a zoo, Homer just pauses for a second, realizes what was just said, and exclaims, “What?” in just a hilarious fashion.

I think the greatest individual moment of the episode though is when Marge finally realizes what she needs to do to make her daughter happy, and it’s by letting her daughter express herself in the way she wants and needs to, and by not trying to fix or change her. The advice she tried to give to Lisa; about smiling no matter how you feel…I never quite understood what the writers were trying to go for with that until very recently, and a large part of that realization is due to this retrospective series, where I’ve started analyzing these episodes a little more and seeing these things in different ways. At this point in the episode, the family has tried numerous times in trying to get Lisa to feel better, all of which have not been successful. The only thing that has been successful is Lisa’s expression through music, something the family has not really understood yet. So at this point, much like her teachers, Marge and Homer are telling Lisa what to do and how to feel, which just doesn’t work and is, if anything, the root of her sadness in the first place. When Marge sees how badly her suggestion is doing, she realizes that she was wrong and tells Lisa that it’s fine to feel sad if she feels that way, and that makes Lisa happy because she has that control now and she can use that sadness to further develop her music, in which she is very much invested in. It took me way too many years to realize that, but I am glad I can finally understand it now, because it does increase my overall appreciation for this episode.

Jazz Hole“I got a bratty brother, he bugs me everyday. And this morning my own mother, she gave my last cupcake away. My dad acts like he belongs, he belongs in the zoo. I’m the saddest kid, in grade number two.”
~Lisa’s Song

My Review:
I feel like I’m hitting the review section kind of early here, but after thinking about it, I really don’t have much else to say about this episode. To be quite honest, going into this retrospective, this was probably my least favorite episode of the six I’ve taken a look at so far. I feel I must stress that it’s not because I think this is a bad episode, by any means; this was just an episode I was incredibly neutral about. It’s nice they went for a more emotionally driven plot with this episode, but I guess for me growing up, I was definitely more about the humor than the emotional responses. These days, since I am well into my adulthood now, I can look at these episodes with a bit more understanding and more of an open mind. I’m not saying all kids are like this, heck, there were probably some kids out there who could relate with what Lisa was going through, but for me, I didn’t grasp all of that at first, and I’m glad that I do now because there is definitely a solid story here.

With that being said though, I wouldn’t say that I’m completely turned around on the subject. I definitely appreciate this episode a lot more and it’s nice to see the start of Lisa’s character development (especially after focusing so much on Bart and Homer on the episodes before this), but like…I wouldn’t be surprised if people start to lose interest during the middle of this episode. It’s kind of like “There’s No Disgrace Like Home” in a lot of respects, where it has some great moments, but they are towards the end of the episode, so you will only feel the impact of those moments if you stuck around and didn’t change the channel or turn away beforehand. And for that, I do see that as kind of a weakness for this episode despite the good moments that it does have. Also, the sub-plot with Homer and Bart, and the videogame? Although not the worst B-plot in the Simpsons’ history, it is very weak and doesn’t really complement the main plot of the episode that well. I honestly would have rather seen Homer and Bart try (and fail) to cheer up Lisa more and maybe come to a similar realization like Marge did, but in their own elements and in ways that would better benefit their individual character relationships moving forward. I ultimately feel like the writers were trying to stuff more jokes and gags into the B-plot because the A-plot was so emotionally-driven, but because of that, they prolonged the emotional moments and if anything made the episode a bit less focused on the main plot, which probably cheapened the overall experience.

However, the Simpsons will go on to do many emotional episodes in the future, particularly ones involving Lisa, and I have to say that the stories do not disappoint. For a first season episode and attempt, I will give props to the writers for going through with this story, because I do think it’s an important episode moving forward. It’s important in the sense that it helped make The Simpsons not just a cartoon show with jokes and gags being delivered every few seconds like Looney Tunes, the Flintstones, and Tom and Jerry, but also a show that focuses on delivering a good story and some emotion alongside the humor. And with that, let’s let our little girl of the Blues, Lisa Simpson, play us out as we close this episode.
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Have to admit, this was a fun episode to look at because it wasn’t an episode I truly appreciated until much later on in life. It makes me curious to watch the rest of the episodes from this season, especially in the near future, because we have some episodes coming up that I’m not the biggest fan of and I kind of wonder how I will feel about them when it comes around to this retrospective. So yeah, I’ll see you guys next week for another episode, and maybe at this rate, I may get a few more finished before my vacation after all.

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SSR #4: “There’s No Disgrace Like Home”

Title Card

Introduction:
When it comes to the Simpsons, they are not a very high-end family. They aren’t very wealthy, they don’t share the same values or manners as other families, and as an outsider looking into their family dynamic, I’m sure a lot of questions and concerns would arise from that observation. In this episode, Homer takes a look at his own family and compares it to the other families in town, wondering if maybe somewhere down the road something went wrong, and puts his family on a quest for improvement, with “shocking” results. This episode debuted on January 28th, 1990 and was the fourth episode to air and the fourth episode written for the show. The chalkboard gag for this episode is “I will not burp in class,” while the couch gag features the entire family trying to sit on the couch at once, which results Homer (of all people) getting squished out and landing on the floor.

BurnsMr. Burns: “And make yourselves at home”
Bart: “Hear that Dad? You can lie around in your underwear and scratch yourself.”

Plot:
Homer’s boss, Mr. Burns, is having his annual employee picnic at his mansion, and the morning of the big event, Homer is in an absolute frenzy of getting his kids to not act up during the outing and making sure everything is absolutely perfect. Apparently Mr. Burns is a stickler for families that are well-behaved and harmonious with each other, and tends to fire employees whose families misbehave or make a scene. In fact, all of the families are so scared of Mr. Burns that they even let him win the annual sack race every year, for fear of what would happen if he didn’t win. During the picnic, the kids run amok, disturbing the local wildlife, and climbing on all the different fixtures, causing Homer to be on constant watch-duty. Even Marge, the most cool and collected member of the family, gets incredibly tipsy after drinking several cups of “punch,” causing her to dance around and sing; creating her own scene that Homer also watches disappointedly. As the family is leaving, Homer notices another family that is very well-behaved and good-mannered and he starts to compare the family to his own. The other family’s kids open the car doors for each other while Bart and Lisa fight over who gets in first, and the wife of the husband offers to drive back while Marge is still very much drunk and feeling sick. Homer is ashamed and disappointed by this observation as the show closes on the first act.

Homer confronts the rest of the family about their actions at the picnic and tries to make changes. He starts by making the entire family eat in the dining room and say grace before eating their meal, but the rest of the family continues to exhibit poor table manners. He decides to show them all how other families and households act by spying into their homes from the windows outside; which comically leads them to running away from gunfire after a family notices their presence and forces them off of their property. Homer goes to Moe’s Tavern where he sees a commercial for Dr. Marvin Monroe’s family-based therapy center and becomes inspired when he thinks this may be the only shot for things to get better for the Simpsons. He talks it over with the rest of the family, who are all very much against the idea, but Homer insists, knowing that this is the answer he was looking for. The only problem; the therapy is very expensive and they need to make some monetary sacrifices. They start by dipping into the kids’ college fund and Homer makes the boldest decision of them all by pawning the family television. Marge even offers up her own engagement ring, but is countered by Homer who says, “I appreciate that honey, but we need $150 dollars here!”

The Simpsons go to therapy and meet Dr. Marvin Monroe, but at first, his tactics seem to be falling on deaf ears and closed minds. Homer doesn’t listen during one of the exercises and Bart takes the padding off of the foam rubber aggression mallets, swinging the metal rod at the doctor’s shin. He decides that the only way the family is going to get cured is if he uses extreme measures, so he hooks the family up to the electric generator. In an all-time classic Simpsons moment, the family misses the point of the exercise and starts shocking each other continuously (even baby Maggie joins in on the fun), causing the lights to flicker and scare off all of the other patients. Dr. Monroe stops the exercise and claims that the family cannot be cured and that they need to leave. Homer, remembering an important part of the commercial he saw, states that the ad promised family bliss, otherwise they would get double their money back. The doctor reluctantly pays the family double their entry fee and sends them on their way. In a last minute realization of togetherness and happiness, the Simpsons go to purchase a brand new television to replace the one they pawned off; ending the episode on a very tender moment.

Evil Simpsons“Homie, get in the car. This is where you belong. Yeah, Homer, room for one more. One of us! One of us! One of us! One of us!”
~Homer’s freaky daydream of his family’s image

Personal History:
Although I don’t not remember seeing the episode in full until the Season 1 DVD released, I definitely remembered the classic electric generator scene. It was definitely used in a future clip show, for sure, but even then, that’s just a scene that has always stuck with me, regardless of how or when I saw it. It’s just one of those moments that you can never forget.

Good FamilyHomer: “Look at that, kids. No fighting, no yelling.”
Bart: “No belching!”
Lisa: “The dad has his shirt on.”
Marge: “Look, napkins!”
Bart: “These people are obviously freaks.”

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
I think it’s safe to say that this episode is an absolute benchmark for the series. If not for the final, big scene I’ve been putting a lot of my focus into, but also just because this episode plot confirms the type of family the Simpsons are and what they will continue to be for the rest of the series. They don’t have a high standard of living, they’re not the brightest crayons in the box (with exception to Lisa, but this is before the “brainiac” image really starts to get pushed, plus Lisa does have a very “Simpson-esque” side to her; all things considering), the kids are pretty unfiltered for their age and don’t give a lot of respect to their father, and they just don’t give off that typical American family vibe that you hear about on television and other forms of media. And personally, I think it’s great that they break that image, because every family in the world, real or fiction, has their own unique dynamic, and honestly, that’s the way it should be. A good family will always find a way to work things out, no matter the circumstances, and the Simpsons did just that at the end of this episode. Homer was disappointed at his family, the kids and Marge resented Homer for making them do the therapy, but they all came together, ripped off a therapy clinic, and left the place richer, happier, and most important, left the building together, united as a family unit. I’m not advising any family in real time to try conning a clinic out of 500 dollars, but for the purpose of this episode, it works, and was truly my favorite moment and best moment of the entire episode. Maybe of the entire season too, but we still have nine episodes left before we make that judgment.

As far as jokes are concerned, I think one joke that really caught me off guard in this re-watch was the fact that the family Homer was envious of at the end of Mr. Burn’s picnic was actually in the family therapy center waiting room before the Simpsons went in for their session. This was clearly a visual gag set up by the Simpsons writers, one that could very easily be overlooked if you don’t focus on specific details (like what those characters looked like), but I also think it’s a very nice message about how some families put up a mask or a façade when in public to hide their happiness. Believe it or not, not all families are necessarily happy all the time, and every family, even the closest ones, can have their issues and dirty laundry. Some just prefer not to air it in public and work on those issues in private where, arguably, that should be the case in most instances. I just thought it was funny to see that they were there at that point in time, and it was almost kind of cosmic in the sense that the Simpsons got to leave the building in harmony while the other family may have been unable to do so; essentially switching around the terrible feeling Homer had at the end of the first act. I also really enjoyed Homer’s comment on Marge’s engagement ring, implying that the engagement ring was worth less than a $150 dollar television.

This episode also features the first instance of the Homer Simpson “Mmm…” joke, where he makes that noise followed by some kind of food item or an item that sounds like it could be digested (in the mind of Homer Simpson anyway), and he does it while admiring the lovely gelatin desserts that Marge has made for the picnic. He makes his pleasure known by saying “Mmm…marshmellow.” And even though I am 3 episodes late on this, Homer does have another vocal joke in the series in the form of “D’oh,” a sound made by Homer’s voice actor, Dan Castellaneta when he read “annoyed grunt” in an episode screwed. Homer first did this in the episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” the first episode of the season, but since I’m just so used to Homer doing that in the first place, it didn’t cross my mind to mention it. I will not be calling attention to any of these gags throughout the series though (unless an extremely humorous one emerges), just because of how numerous and common they are, but I did figure this would be a good time to mention them now, at least while we are still this early in the series.

As far as other mentionable oddities, Waylon Smithers is back in this episode, but the “tan” that he had in episode 3 is now gone for good. However, on the topic of incorrect skin colors, this was also the first appearance of police officers Eddie and Lou from the Springfield Police Department, and I think at this point in the series, they hadn’t decided (or once again, the animators missed the notes) that Lou was going to be an African-American cop, because in this episode, he is definitely white. It’s quite amazing to look at all these episodes again and notice all of the little oddities here and there. In the same image linked above, you also can take a look at Moe with his black hair that he had back during this season as well. Those Season 1 memories…

pawn the TVLisa: “No, Dad! Please don’t pawn the TV.”
Bart: Oh, come on, Dad, anything but that.”
Marge: “Homer, couldn’t we pawn my engagement ring instead?”
Homer: “Now I appreciate that, honey, but we need $150 dollars here!”

My Review:
So after my incredibly positive analysis earlier on the ending of the episode, you probably think I’m going to be pretty generous and enthusiastic about this one. Honestly…with exception to the family therapy segment (which is basically the entirety of Act 3)… I’m not really a big fan of this story. I just don’t like the way Homer thinks in this episode. He spends too much time focusing on how he wants his family to be, whether it’s to score some brownie points with his boss, or just to appease his own wants and needs at home. Given, his kids can be a little too much to take sometimes, but they are kids! By pushing and forcing them into some kind of façade to make him look great, naturally the kids are going to want to rebel as much as possible; so if anything, Homer had been literally asking them for that kind of behavior all along. Even during the therapy session, when Dr. Monroe asked the family to illustrate the roots of their unhappiness, Marge, Lisa and Bart all drew Homer, while Homer ignored the question and drew a plane crash. This goes to show you that Homer wasn’t doing much better as the head of the household as the rest of the family was doing with giving him respect. The entire family was at fault, but I think the episode focuses a little too much on the Homer side of the story, when he was probably the biggest instigator of the family’s problems. I guess you could say that I just couldn’t really sympathize with him, and that’s probably why I have a hard time with this episode.

With that being said though, once the family gets to the therapy center, I think it picks up phenomenally well. It has a lot of funny moments and gags, it’s interesting to see where Dr. Monroe goes next with his treatments (and how the family continues to mess them up), and the ending was the most perfect way to end the episode. It ends with them taking all of that pent-up aggression and releasing it at each other in a creative way, and then they celebrate their “victory” by going to purchase a new television afterwards; the very same object that got them to that lowest point once Homer sold it to begin with. It’s a good finale that saves this episode for me, quite honestly. I just wish I could have been more invested in the story…you know, before the final act of the episode.

So overall, that is going to be my analysis for this one. I was honestly looking forward to see what this post would end up like, and I’m very pleased by the results. I think it’s good when you can praise a particular part of one episode, even if it’s one you don’t particularly like. And on the flip side, it’s always good to point out the negatives when going through an episode you enjoy as well. This is why I’m really curious to see how these will end up the further we get into the series. For now though, I’m putting “There’s No Disgrace Like Home” back on the shelf and I’m going to let the Simpson family watch their new $500 dollar television, because as Lisa said, “It’s not so much the money as much as the feeling that we earned it.”

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So yeah, I was a little late with this one, but honestly, this was probably the episode that took the least amount of time to make, so I am definitely starting to get this down to a science now. I just had a lot of stuff to get done last weekend, as I did get back into streaming again and I’m still trying to make some major headway with all of my videos as well (since I do have a vacation coming up). I’m not going to promise an issue this weekend, but if I get some time after all the craziness subsides, I will start working on the next episode, which was probably my favorite episode the first time I watched through Season 1, so it should be a good time!

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SSR #3: “Homer’s Odyssey”

Intro

Introduction:
So far in this series, we’ve spent some time with the Simpson family for the holiday season, and we took a look at what Bart’s life is like inside the schoolhouse. This episode, “Homer’s Odyssey,” will be examining Homer at the workplace, or to be more specific; how Homer deals when that world is turned upside-down on his very head. I’m sure this episode will shock you with what we will discover; especially if you’ve seen episodes that come after this plot. This episode aired on January 21st, 1990 and was the third episode written and aired on television.

The chalkboard gag for this episode is, “I will not skateboard in the halls,” a very basic and not-at-all surprising action to get in trouble for, but it is the first piece of evidence that we have in regards to Bart being a big skateboarder. The couch gag features the entire family sitting down on the couch with the couch falling apart at the very seams. These gags are still very basic in nature, but give it a bit as we are still in the first season. It won’t be until future seasons when they get more creative, whacky and start adapting references to other media. With that out of the way, let’s start talking about this episode.

Dip Sign

Marge: “Oh, Homer, I’m so proud of you!”
Homer: “Proud? Proud of what?”
Marge: Well, everything! Your dip sign for instance. Now people won’t be caught off-guard by that little ‘mmm-mmmm’ in the road!”

Plot:
Even though this is a Homer storyline, the first act of the show focuses entirely on Bart. His class is going on a field trip to the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, which just so happens to be the place where Homer works. We get some more insight to how much of a troublemaker Bart is at school, learning that he may have been the cause of letting some prisoners out during another field trip to the Springfield prison. His teacher, Mrs. Krabappel, is also very tired of his antics as well; not showing any sort of pity for Bart after he is forced to sit next to the kid that pukes on every bus ride, nor doubt when twins Sherri & Terri continue to play tricks on Bart throughout the trip. When they arrive at the plant and start taking the tour, Bart notices his father and calls out to him, causing Homer to look away from what he is doing and crash into a nearby piece of equipment. This accident angers his supervisor and Homer is fired from his job as result; turning this mini-Bart storyline into the main plot of the episode.

After being fired, Homer looks for a new job but is constantly and consistently rejected at every interview. The rejection starts to affect Homer in a very negative way, turning him into an “unemployed whale” who does nothing but lay on the couch all day and not respond to anyone. After seeing a beer commercial, Homer is intrigued by the prospect of drinking his sorrows away, but when he checks the fridge, there is no beer in the house, forcing him into more extreme measures. He steals Bart’s piggy-bank and tries to take money from his own son, but when he realizes what he is doing AND finds out that not even his son has enough money, Homer feels like he is out of options and the next logical step is for him to commit suicide.

Now, for those of you reading this and who have not seen this episode before…yes, that is a very dark decision to make, especially to such a sudden degree, but I kind of understand what the writers were going for and I’ll talk about this more in the review portion of this entry. Anyway, Homer grabs a boulder, ties a rope around it and carries it to the bridge above Springfield River. Thankfully, before too much time passes, the rest of the Simpson family find Homer’s suicide note and rush to the bridge to stop Homer from going through with his plan. Before he can do anything, Homer sees the rest of the family coming towards him while a giant vehicle is about to crash into his family, forcing Homer into action as he runs to his family (while the boulder is still attached to him by the way), and pushes them out of the way before it’s too late. This act of bravery inspires Homer to not kill himself and take action to make the town safer.

Homer becomes a crusader of public safety; petitioning the town to construct more road signs and warn people of the problems and dangers that exist around town. While the thrill of making the town safer gives his life new meaning, Homer realizes there is a bigger threat to the town and that threat is his old workplace, the nuclear power plant. Homer sets up a protest outside the building, forcing the owner of the plant, Mr. Burns, to take notice. After being impressed of the way Homer speaks to the crowd, Mr. Burns calls Homer up to his office to speak with him privately.

Mr. Burns offers to give Homer a job at the plant again, this time being in charge of plant safety, on the one condition that he stops his crusade and tells all of the people outside that the power plant is safe and there is no more need to worry. Homer accepts the proposal at first, but when he tries to tell everyone that the plant is safe, he can’t do it because it would abandon his newfound principles. Mr. Burns is further impressed and gives Homer the job anyway, allowing Homer to take charge and make the plant safe himself instead of just sweeping the concern under the rug. Homer tells all of his supporters outside the good news, and the crowd cheers him on as he dances over his new promotion; leading him to falling off the balcony and being caught by everyone below him.

Protest

Bart: “Gee, Dad’s a hero.”
Homer: “What’d you say son?”
Bart: “Nothing.”
Homer: “That’s okay. I’ll just assume you said what I thought I heard you say.”

Personal History:
Like most of Season 1, I first saw this episode when it released on the Season 1 DVD. Back then I thought the episode was fine and was a basic introduction to the power plant, but in recent watches, there were definitely some things that surprised me. For one, it surprised me how stretched out the story is and how it feels like three separate mini-episodes that are combined into one storyline. I also took notice that the episode introduced a lot of side characters and continuous gags and jokes that would be used in later episodes. And to top it all off, just the idea of the main character (or one of them) considering and nearly attempted suicide just really took me off guard, especially after watching future episodes and seeing how Homer would react to similar situations in a much different way. So in a lot of respects, this episode just seemed like a very interesting outlier to me; being iconic for some reasons and incredibly different and out of place for other reasons. I still have a few other things I want to talk about first, but I’m really anxious to start breaking this episode down in the review.

BoulderWalk

Mrs. Winfield: “Oh, looks like young Simpson is going to kill himself.”
Mr. Winfield: “Well Maybe not. Maybe he’s just taking his boulder for a walk.

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
This particular episode brought a few, notable, first-time jokes. For one, this was the first episode that featured the classic Bart Simpson “prank call” joke that would go down as being one of the most famous jokes of the series. Basically, Bart would call Moe’s Tavern under a fake name, and get Moe to say the name out loud, which usually would be some kind of crude remark or dirty saying. In this episode, Bart’s identity is known as “I. P. Freely.” This was also the first episode that mentioned the graffiti vandal known as “El Barto,” a mysterious figure that would go around town and spray paint “El Barto” on various walls and landmarks. There’s a lot of speculation on this particular joke, particularly the identity of El Barto, and because of the sketch artist’s interpretation, it’s very heavily assumed and implied that the identity is none other than Bart Simpson himself. There is a future episode that confirms this, but it isn’t until much later in the series, and with how many times the writers have backpedaled on revelations like this, it’s hard for me to be entirely convinced. However, the writers did state in numerous audio commentaries that this was always the intention and that they intended to include “El Barto” tags in every episode (or most episodes). In fact, the Kwik-E-Mart usually has an “El Barto” tag in most episodes the store appears in.

This episode is also one of the episodes I think of when it comes to “freeze frame” jokes, especially with newspaper headlines. During the episode, when Homer is going around town and making the town safer, you see a variety of newspapers with funny pictures and captions of all of Homer’s deeds, and while they aren’t split-second like future instances of this, it’s definitely a big example of die-hard, classic Simpson fans going through these episodes and looking for all the little jokes sprinkled in during the story. It can be as simple as a newspaper headline or a bunch of humorous movie titles at the theater whenever the family goes to the movies, but one thing for sure, the Simpsons writers know how to make a good freeze-frame joke.

This episode also continues the trend of Homer getting a new job after quitting or being fired from his position at the nuclear power plant, or him just taking an odd job in his spare time. This will happen numerous times over the series, and although his duty as a safety crusader didn’t pay anything, it was something he took seriously and seemed to be more proficient at than his actual job. In fact, I find this to be rather humorous that Homer seems to be happier and work better at every job he has, with exception to his actual job, which is the job he keeps for pretty much the entire series.

I don’t have a lot to say about this episode when it comes to my favorite moments, but there are a few things that stand out to me. For one, I think it’s great that Homer is so passionate about his new calling of being a safety crusader for the town of Springfield. He may go a little overboard at times, but some of his suggestions were really good and he may have saved a few lives with some of the signs he got constructed. And then, when he realizes that the power plant is a big threat (because it logically is), he manages to fight the system with ease without any fear whatsoever. In fact, it’s his wife that actually has concern with him going against his old bosses while Homer is ready to fight tooth and nail to make the town safe. I think it truly shows, in a positive way, how much Homer can do if he just puts his mind to it.

And for being a very dark part of the story, the one joke I always remember from this episode, which might be my favorite joke as a result, is the snarky remarks from the Winfields when Homer is carrying the boulder to the bridge to commit suicide. Mrs. Winfield remarks that “Simpson is going to kill himself,” while the husband remarks that Homer may not be attempting suicide, but rather “taking his boulder for a walk,” instead. Suicide jokes themselves are not funny and they never will be in any case whatsoever, but just the fact that Mr. Winfield was not quick to assume that, because of the type of person Homer Simpson is, just seems very funny to me; like in the sense that, “he really COULD be taking a boulder for a walk, you never know; he’s crazy Homer Simpson!” So that joke will always be a highlight for me, despite the dark tone of that particular moment. Aside from that, all of the other gags I mentioned and brought up earlier, from the prank phone call and the newspaper headlines, they’re also funny as well, but are more footstools for a series-wide joke than just a single, episode gag. I will also say that I do enjoy the montage of Homer having doors slam in his face when looking for a job, with the final door being at his home with Bart saying, “don’t give up dad!” before slamming the door shut.

The last thing I want to call attention to, and this is probably the most shocking thing if you have watched episodes beyond this one, but in this episode, Waylon Smithers does not have the same skin color as he does in future episodes. This is the only episode where he is colored like this and the reason for it is because the animators were not sure what color he was supposed to be so they made his skin more brown/tan-colored. The writers of the show often joke that the reason Smithers was colored this way was because he had a very dark tan from an island get-away or something, so it’s good to know that they had their fun with this particular mistake. Other characters also have slight differences in the first season, namely Chief Wiggum and Moe have black hair instead of their trademark black and gray hair.

SimpsonInAllOfUs

“Friends, you have come to depend on me as your safety watchdog, so you won’t scrape yourself or stub your toes or blow yourselves up. But you can’t depend on me all your life. You have to learn that there’s a little Homer Simpson in all of us…”
~Homer Simpson

My Review:
Homer’s Odyssey is a very iconic episode, and I didn’t realize how iconic it was until I watched it back for this analysis. It introduces a lot of things we know about The Simpsons moving forward and it writes a lot of characters and jokes that we’ll see throughout the entire series. For that, this episode holds my respect for those particular introductions. However, as far as the story itself and the overall plot of the episode is concerned, I will say that this episode did fall short in a couple of areas, and is not one of my favorites as a result. As I mentioned above in the personal history section, this particular story is segmented. Act 1 focuses on Bart’s field trip, Act 2 focuses on Homer’s lay-off and depression, and Act 3 focuses on Homer’s safety crusade. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with jumping around to that degree, as I’m sure other episodes may do that format with success, but with this particular episode, it just kind of bothered me a little. I think it’s because there just aren’t a lot of jokes in this one because there is so much plot that needs to be set-up beforehand that the writers were trying to fill-in how to get Homer from point A to point B than writing joke after joke after joke. Whenever there were jokes, as good as they were, the jokes themselves seemed more like filler to compensate for a shorter run time than jokes that flowed nicely with the story. And sure, you probably don’t want to have too many jokes in your episode, but for this one, I feel like it could have used a bit more, at least in my opinion.

There’s also quite a bit of confusion I have with the ending of this episode. During the ending, Homer is offered another job at the power plant under the condition that he tells his supporters that the plant is safe. Homer tries to, but is unable to go along with it because of his principles. As a result, Mr. Burns compliments him and gives him the job anyway, which prompts Homer to go outside and tell everybody that he is going to be the safety inspector. This confuses me, because what exactly changed between the two times Homer went out to the balcony? Nothing really. So why couldn’t Homer just say his speech the first time he went out there? I feel like for this moment, you really have to examine the syntax of what the two were talking about. And as far as my interpretation goes; the first time Homer went out, he was just supposed to say the plant was safe with no context, in Mr. Burn’s interest of sending everyone away and stopping the protest. However, the second time he goes out, he says that he will taking the job and trying to make the plant safe on the inside, which is much different than the original intent of sweeping the problem under the rug. However, if Homer said that speech the first time, would Mr. Burns not give him the job? I mean, either way, it was a win-win. I think it makes sense from looking at it from the perspective I mentioned, but truth be told, that did have me confused for the longest time and I think it could have been written a little better.

And surely I can’t overlook the giant boulder in the room when it comes to the “attempted suicide” scene. I’m not going to speak ill of this moment, because again, I get what the writers were going for, and truth be told, I think they handled it very well. Homer was depressed, he couldn’t provide for his family, he had no skills to work with or any alcohol to help him cope with the pain; so he felt like he was only getting in the way of his family, and therefore felt useless and not important at all, which is why he made that decision. I can’t imagine how that must feel for someone or anyone going through those types of thoughts, which is why it was refreshing to see Homer discover his life’s purpose at the end of that scene, but I think it was good for the writers to spread that kind of awareness and the message that suicide is not the answer. And considering the extreme nature of this topic, it’s just really interesting to see them deliver that message so early in the series and they did it with only a two minute scene, as opposed to an entire episode. It’s also interesting, especially when looking at how Homer would cope with a problem like this in future episodes, just seeing how sudden and how out of left field this scene came from. These days, Homer would come up with a kooky scheme or crazy project to get his mind off and away from the power plant, but this time, it really hit him hard and in a way that most people probably wouldn’t see coming from him. I guess that goes to show you how much this show has changed over the years, and on a more serious note, how serious and scary depression can be in general, and how it should never be overlooked or ignored.

Overall, I wouldn’t say this is a bad episode by any means. It has its nice and funny moments and it has some good messages throughout the plot as well. I feel like it could have been a much stronger episode if they spent a little less time on story-telling and a little more time on the jokes and humor. Again, not saying the show needs to be a joke-fest or anything, but a nice balance of story-telling and jokes is a good way to keep your viewers interested and invested. I think that’s all I have to say about this episode, so as I’m closing this out, just try to remember what Homer Simpson taught us about being safe. He may no longer be our safety watchdog, but we have to remember that even though he is gone, “there is always a little Homer Simpson in all of us.”

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This episode took me a bit longer to make because I was trying a slightly new format with these posts, but at the end of me finishing my rough draft, I realized there was way more information and writing than I really even wanted, so I spent an entire day re-editing and modifying this document to get it in the format I wanted before I realized that I was more happy with the usual format I’ve been doing for these posts. I guess it’s just a case of, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” But seriously, as usual, any insight or advice is helpful, so don’t be afraid to tweet at me or send me a message if you have some thoughts. Thanks everybody! See you next week for the next episode!

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The Simpsons: Road Rage

The Simpsons: Road Rage

Game: The Simpsons: Road Rage
Start Date: September 22nd, 2012
Runtime: 5 hours
Videos: 24

Mr. Burns is once again up to no good when he becomes the owner of the town’s transit system, with his buses powered by nothing but pure radiation. In response, Homer starts his own taxi service and before long, all of Springfield is now supporting the cause to put Mr. Burns out of business!

I had gotten numerous requests to do The Simpsons Game and this game as Let’s Play projects, and when I saw this game just sitting in my library, realizing that it had been a long time since The Simpsons: Hit and Run, I figured it was time to play this game for the viewers. Not only did I play every stage and play every character, but I also covered the “Mission” mode as well and showed off a few holiday themed characters.

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